'Supernatural' Recap: The Power Of The Pack
November 6th, 2013 9:58am EST
You wouldn't think that a sci-fi show could bring the laughs better than 89% of recent 'SNL' episodes but "Supernatural," with some heavy-lifting from the gorgeous goofball Jensen Ackles and straight-man Jared Padalecki, continues to bring the hilarity. "Dog Dean Afternoon" follows the Winchesters' escapades after Dean mind-melds with a dog in order to solve a horrific murder.
Take your own pet for a walk, and let's dive in, shall we?
The writers take a page from the scripts of the soaps Ackles cut his teeth on, and allow the brothers to interact with roommate and prophet Kevin off-screen. After last week's vacation in Branson, Kevin is now nursing a massive hangover in one of the bunkers back rooms. Sam’s sympathetic, but he's ready to get back on the road after three days of rest. Dean, of course, wants Sam and the angel curled up inside of him to lay low for a little while longer so both of their batteries can re-charge. But Sammy can't sit on his hands when there is "a human pretzel" just three hours away. It's a little humanizing to find that the brothers who shoot the heads off ghouls (of if those ghouls hurt your brother, mash it to pulp) and dig up moldering corpses, are appropriately disturbed by the stuffed and posed dead animal carcasses that litter every inch of the crime scene at the taxidermist's shop. Apparently when they're dressed characters from “Game Of Thrones,” it's even creepier.
Thankfully, the graffiti scrawled on the window of the crime scene came branded with an insignia for an animal rights group, S.N.A.R.T (Showing No Animal Rough Treatment,) is the best lead the boys have, so they follow that. The owners aren’t “witches or hippies,” they are something much worse: Vegans. Our burger-coveting Dean is having none of it. "I always knew I'd find the source of all evil at a vegan bakery," he grouses. (For the record, vegan chocolate chip cookies taste a vaguely like plants but are surprisingly decent).
The owners and married couple quickly cop to tagging the shop as a "scare tactic" but got a shot of instant karma when they were they were ambushed and "maced" by a mysterious person. "So now we look like total douchebags because we have to wear our sunglasses inside" to conceal their inflamed, infected eyes. Sam does his internet-fu and quickly surmises the couple weren't maced, but sprayed with venom. It all fits because the poor taxidermist was constricted by a “freaky ass mega-snake monster!" Dean hopes. "Nagini!" I say. "Crocodile Dundee" the stylist says becuse the villain is a sinister-faced man searing a tan 10-gallon hat and buttery tan leather jacket as he bribes his way into an animal shelter. All that's missing is the crocidile tooth choker but that would only impede the disjointing of his jaw and expanding of his throat as he pulls an adorable cat from the cage and swallows it whole! Imbued with feline superpowers, he slices the poor, nosy assistant before ripping out his throat.
At the crime scene at kennel, Sam and Dean figure out that The Colonel, a gorgeous German Shepherd with a hatred for men in hats, isn't a their supernatural UNSUB but a witness to both crimes. Kevin hooks them up with an Inuit spell that will meld a human mind with the canine’s. Sam's prepared to take one for the team but Dean boguarts the disgusting brown sludge that contains, at the very minimum, dog hair. "You got enough on your plate. You're on the mend," he says and downs it like a springbreakers does tequila. Nine years in, and I never get tired of Dean worrying about Sam.
Of course with "Supernatural" nothing is ever easy or instantaneous—especially magic—and it seems like the spell is a bust…at least until The Colonel starts ripping on Styx.
The following scene is as brilliant as it is hysterical. The Colonel (whose voice seemed gruffer than I would imagine) explains that he witnessed a man in a cowboy hat kill both guys, but he never saw what he did with the cats. While they're talking, Sam balls up his fast food garbage and tosses it in the trashcan. Dean retrieves it and hands it back to Sam. Two seconds later, Dean and The Colonel are barking at the mailman. Ackles' decision to forego the over-the-top dog behavior and opt for a more nuanced half-verbal bark is genius. Sam, for once, is amused and thrilled he'd dodged this bullet.
If you've gotten warmfuzzies by Buzzfeed articles detailing interspecies friendships, then you know what Dean is about to discover. Animals have a universal language. So when Dean gripes at the pigeon who poops on his beloved baby, it snarks right back: "And I'm just getting started, brewin' a real big one. Bet your ride's going to look good in white." One zinger later, Dean's pulling his .45 at the poor bird, terrifying the motel patrons. Embarrassed, Sam defuses his brother and shoves him into the Impala.
Back at the shelter, the Winchesters are extorted by a Yorkie. Sammy, "the biggin'," petulantly rubs his belly while the dog spills the deets. It's beyond adorable how relaxed and comfortable the dog looks cradled in Sam's arms. Sam, however, is 100% done with the little anklebiter. He points the boys in the direction of a French restaurant, Avante Garde cuisine. Dean cannot leave without letting all of the dogs go. He's such a softie.
This is when "Dog Dean Afternoon" changes from a light-hearted gut-buster to a cracked out version of "Ratatouille." At the restaurant, a trio of rats point the brothers to the fridge, which holds the entrails of every kind of animal imaginable. Mongoose intestine, anyone? Apparently, the Big Bad is using "Shaman-ism." If you pair the squishy bits of a certain animal with the perfect spell, you get the recipe for temporary superpowers. Only Leo has to get chefy with it by combining different animal parts to take on more powers.
Have you ever noticed that horrible things happen when the Winchesters split up? That theory is proven once again when Sam gets his jugular slashed by the bad guy, who, thanks to some fried chameleon scales pared with a nice Chianti, blended in with the garishly patterned wallpaper. Sammy is bleeding out and truly screwed. I was unmoved by Charlie's death last episode, but I'm panicking now because Dean's not there and Sam’s leaking blood by the pint. Just as I tuck half my face into my shirt, his eyes flash blue. That’s right, “Supernatural’s” angel in the outfield emerges. He heals his filleted vessel like the badass he is and vanishes. It’s a bit of great acting on Jared Padalecki’s part to seamlessly switch from an injured Sam to badass Zeke back to an injured and clueless Sam. The show was very smart not to mention Zeke for the entire episode. I actually forgot he was there.
Chef McGross is captivated by Sam's ability to heal and hungrily covets that power. "I want to know what you are...Screw the Sharktopus, you're my main course." He wants to eat Sammy up, and for once, I actually relate to this whackjob. He knocks Sam out cold, which gives him time to sharpen his cleaver and monologue with a bound Dean. “All dogs should be leashed," he croons as he lashes Dean to a pole with an electrical cord.
Leo has incurable end stage cancer. With the help of a "shaman and a zoo membership," he found a grisly way to prolong his life. It began innocently, of course, but "I guess if you eat enough predators, you start to become one. You are what you eat, right?" Is it wrong that I kind of dig this week's villain? His origin story makes me feel for him and he's got all kind of flare. When he threatens Sam, all bets are off. Dean and I aren’t having any of that. Chef Leo nibbles on a wolf heart, giving Dean the chance to flee for his life.
Most dogs prefer to travel in packs, and Dean is no different. He signals The Colonel, who leads the canine charge to tear Chef Leo limb from limb, a fitting death for someone who slaughtered animals for stray parts and people who got in the way.
Dean runs back to Sam who's still bloody and unconscious. After 50 minutes of hilarity dash of ick, "Supernatural" decides to blindside us with a ninja-kick all in the feels. Dean kneels over his brother, palming his head and cheek and promptly freaks the hell out. Because not two weeks ago, Sam was dying, being reaped by death himself. "For the love of God, Sammy...Zeke!" Dean calls, voice trembling. It takes threats of Dean to "lick his damn face" and him bodily shaking Sam for him to wake up.
With the case closed, Dean finds The Colonel a home with the vegan couple. He believes that road is no place for a dog, but I actually think that hunting with a dog would be kind of badass. If they can sniff out bombs, can they sense demons? However, The Colonel barfed in the Impala's backseat, so there's no way he's riding in it again.
Outside, Sam is still bothered by Chef Leo not being sure what Sam was. Dean spins more flimsy lies, and then utters this sobering truth: "He was all jacked up on juice, possessed by something he couldn't control. It was a matter of time before it completely took over." Foreshadowing Sam's future, maybe?
Sam trusts his brother, but he’s far from stupid and he’s also a hunter. He knew he was gravely injured and then suddenly he wasn't. He doesn’t say anything outright, but I think he suspects something isn't right and will quietly collect clues and evidence to build his case before confronting Dean.
Ultimately, "Dog Dean Afternoon" was a triumph in acting, comedy and all-in performances. It's an instant classic of "Supernatural" crack episodes that nearly bests the epic “Wishful Thinking.” It also illustrates why Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki deserve their recent People's Choice Award nominations and much more.
What did you think of this episode? Do you think Sam suspects something? Do you think The Colonel would make a good demon-sniffing dog? How funny was this episode? Hit up the comments section below!
Next week Castiel tries his hand at the service industry!
Photo Credits: The CW Network